Nadia Sbeih, a United States foreign service officer stationed in Egypt, was on a mission—but not perhaps the one she had initially envisioned. The commander of the multinational military camp where she was stationed had ordered all feral animals on the base killed. Sbeih wanted to save their lives.
First, Sbeih tried to explain the benefits of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). When the commander remained unmoved, Sbeih set about finding homes for community animals who had become socialized. Over the next two years, she helped more than two dozen pets – including a three-legged cat, a one-eyed cat and six puppies– find forever homes. She even helped seven U.S. service members bring home animals they had grown attached to.
And, when Sbeih moved from Egypt to Washington in 2017, she brought along five cats of her own.
“I know there are animals in the United States… that need loving homes, but sometimes you meet an animal you get attached to and you want to make its life better,” says Sbeih, who recently joined Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network.
Although Sbeih’s career requires her to move every two years, she manages to help animals and advocate for TNR wherever she resides. During a stint in Equatorial Guinea, for example, she worked with a veterinarian who performed spay and neuter operations on a dining room table because there were no surgical facilities.
In her travels, Sbeih has encountered people who think about animals and sterilization very differently than people in the U.S.
“Not every person in every country treats animals the way some Americans do,” she says. “Animals are not integrated into the family. They are beasts of burden.”
Sbeih believes the best way to advocate for animal care is to share her story and encourage others to relate to animals.
“It might not result in an immediate, wanted response, but at least it opens the door for a later conversation,” she says.